I love movies.
While I concede that they are first and foremost a visual medium, my first love has always been writing. So I especially love a well-written movie, because that's where I believe any good movie has its foundation - in a good script. But great movies take that script and build upon it by telling a striking visual story as well. It's what sets movies apart from other art forms like books or paintings. You enter into an immersive experience. I enjoy searching for meaning in both the words of a movie and the shots.
For this blog, you'll find two main kinds of posts: Favorite Movies and Movie Reviews. Favorite Movies are posts about...yep, you guessed it, my favorite movies. These are movies I've seen at least two times and have a deep love for. These are the movies I find myself thinking about randomly throughout the day.
Movie Reviews are my initial thoughts after seeing a movie for either the first or second time. Often, these will be new releases I've just seen in theaters. Sometimes, it will be previously-released movies that I had never seen before. But these posts differ from Favorite Movies in that they are my initial reactions, not my carefully-considered feelings about a movie that I've seen many times.
There is also a third section called my Movie Journal. This will be for topical posts about watching movies or general ideas on films. It will also be where I post my year-end list and other movie rankings.
In terms of my individual reviews, you won't find me getting into star ratings of each film. Keep in mind that I am not a film expert in that I have not studied film or taken any classes on the technical aspects of filmmaking. I am simply a film-lover who likes to discuss films. I want to create a place to do that, and this website is that place. As such, my reviews will be more focused on fostering discussion than on rating the films by some type of scale. I will, from time to time, post rankings such as year-end lists, but I will not be rating each individual film in my reviews.
You also should be aware that each of my reviews may include spoilers for the film. My reviews are designed to foster discussion after someone has already watched a film. I highly encourage people who haven't seen the film to watch it before engaging with my reviews. Consider this your first warning, but I will also add in a short warning at the beginning of each post for those who happen to miss this one.
Finally, I'd like to have a discussion about objectionable content in movies. As a Christ-follower, I seek to live in a way that follows after His teachings. My goal is that every aspect of my life is submitted to His guidance. I certainly wish that for how I consume movies.
In light of that, on the surface, it may seem that I would then be compelled to completely shun all films with objectionable content. You could look at verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:2 or Phillipians 4:8 and make the case that Christians should not view any movie that has objectionable content.
I, however, am not making that case.
Why is that? Well, as with most discussions of faith, I think we need to spend a little more time in nuanced thought and discussion about this topic in light of what the Bible says. I certainly am not disregarding the above verses, I simply wonder if they mean what we think they mean when viewed in light of the rest of Scripture. What do I mean by that?
Well, first, I think you'd have to ask yourself why the Bible itself contains "objectionable content." Please hear me when I say that I am not advocating that anything should be added to or subtracted from Scripture. But the fact remains that the Bible contains accounts of rapes, murders, wars, incest, and many other actions that we would say are impure. Why?
Because the world is impure. That is the truth of our state as humans. We must understand how to live in light of that.
Now, I would never go so far as to compare a movie to the Word of God. I believe the Bible to be divinely inspired, and I revere it above any other work of art made by human hands. But we must ask ourselves, if the Bible includes these accounts, are we really supposed to shun other works that do as well?
For further discussion of this topic, I direct you to a video I found online from Jerram Barrs, the professor of Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture at Covenant Seminary.
For now, let me just say this - I think it is EXTREMELY important to be thoughtful about what you watch. Each person is different and thus will be affected differently by certain content. For instance, you will find reviews of movies here that contain a great deal of violence, language and thrilling situations. Some may also have sexual content. However, I personally draw a harder line when it comes to nudity. Personally, I do not want to subject myself to images of nudity on screen as far as I can help it. When I'm watching a movie for the first time, I will usually go and check either the IMDB Parents Guide or the Common Sense Media movie review. If the movie contains a great deal of sexual content or overt nudity, I often will choose not to watch the film. I will make exceptions if there is one, easily-skippable scene in a movie (as in the movie Drive), or in other vary rare occasions where there are multiple occurances (as in the movie 12 Years a Slave). But as a general rule, I try to steer clear of nudity in film. But I do not find myself to be as affected by images of violence or by large amounts of profanity. I understand that others will feel differently. In the end, I believe that each person needs to be prayerful about where they will draw lines on content when it comes to movies.
I realize some will say that is silly that I even go that far in considering content, and still others will say I haven't gone far enough. I believe that, once you reach an age where you can make such decisions for yourself, it is on the conscience of the individual to decide what content choices they will make. I believe there is great art out there that depicts truth and helps us consider the human experience but also contains objectionable content. The truth of the matter is that our world, unfortunately, is imperfect. It isn't sanitary. There is objectionable behavior out there whether we like it or not. So, I will not deprive myself of great art that is simply depicting the truth of the nature of the world. As a Christian, I often can still find themes of hope, faith or redemption in such movies (as in No Country for Old Men). As long as my conscience is clear with God, with my wife and with myself, I think that's okay. But, again, I do think we should be careful and thoughtful about what we put before our eyes. We shouldn't just watch anything without giving it some thought first. In light of that, for each of my Movie Reviews and Favorite Movies posts you will find a note about the film's content at the end of each post. This is meant, not as a directive on whether you should or shouldn't watch the film, but as a help to you as you make such decisions for yourself and your family.
One final note, I am not a parent yet. Certainly I think this discussion takes on a whole different meaning when you are a parent making such decisions for your child. I would not recommend many of the movies I'll review on this blog to children or young teenagers. I think back to when I was at that age, and I simply wasn't ready for those images and situations. Now that I am older, I can put them in context. But, I certainly support all parents in making content decisions for their children, and I would not want my reviews of any films here to come across as me encouraging younger viewers to watch them.
With all that being said, I invite you to join with me in discussion of some great films. I'm sure there are many out there that I have not seen yet. Please, leave a comment and tell me about some of your favorite films. Or, if you see a post I've written about one of your favorites, jump in the comments and tell me what you think of it.
Thanks again for stopping by!